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Regional Business Plan in Action: Tampa Bay’s first-ever Research Council forms

April 4, 2012

Special post from Stuart L. Rogel, President & CEO of the Tampa Bay Partnership

Last night, John Schueler, Chair of our Regional Business Plan for Tampa Bay initiative, and I joined Michael Van Butsel and Tom McLain, Co-Chairs of BioFlorida’s Western Chapter and other leaders from the Tampa Bay Chapter of BioFlorida for the first-ever meeting of Tampa Bay’s flagship Research Council. The meeting was successful and truly regional in nature with representation from across Tampa Bay. Included among the approximate 20 attendees were Dr. Michael Tolentino of the Center for Retina and Molecular Disease in Polk County, James Humphrey with the Roskamp Institute in Sarasota, Dr. Michael Epstein from All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Dr. Karen A. Holbrrok with the USF Office of Research, among other notable leaders.

This effort is being chaired by Dr. Debbie Sutherland, CEO of USF Health’s Center for Advanced Medical Learning & Simulation (CAMLS), who seemed pleased with the collaboration that took place and the outcomes of the Council’s first meeting. The group identified an initial list of priorities important to the various research institutions across the region. Among them are:

  • to build a network of research organizations in the region,
  • share common databases, and
  • take inventory of Tampa Bay’s current research organizations, mapping the assets and resources for these institutions.

Chris Paradies of Fowler White Boggs P.A. and Chair of the Regional Business Plan’s Applied Medicine & Human Performance Working Group shared with the Council the work that has been accomplished to date through the efforts of the Regional Business Plan, including a heat map of Tampa Bay’s clinical trial assets. Throughout the discussion, the group became much more familiar with our region’s current assets in this area. Many of them had no idea how many exist. With the Florida Blood Bank, the Lion’s Eye Institute, and our Universities among many others, Tampa Bay already serves as a research and innovation hub waiting to be leveraged. Chris also pointed out that the formation of the Research Council is a specific initiative outlined in the plan and that its creation is a huge accomplishment in the plan’s implementation.

Moving forward, the group will hold a series of regular meetings to further flesh out these priorities and really shape the role of the Tampa Bay Research Council, the first one being in June. Until then, the group agreed that key individuals were missing from the table and will be working together to identify these folks and determine the best way to expand.  

Creation of this Council represents exactly what the Regional Business Plan aims to do, build upon and leverage our region’s existing strengths and opportunities to grow high-value business and create high-wage, sustainable job growth. I look forward to seeing the results that this group produces.

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